Brad Bishop — racing.com
Robert Smerdon would be surprised if well-related filly Fife does not do the family proud, but he’s not convinced Wednesday is the day she will assert herself.
The half-sister to 2013 Caulfield Cup winner and last year’s Cox Plate runner-up Fawkner will make her debut in the $35,000 Viatek 2YO Handicap (1200m) at the Ballarat meeting that carries metropolitan status.
The shrewd Caulfield horseman is confident the $650,000 yearling purchase will measure up to a better grade, but would not be surprised if it is not for a couple of preparations.
“She’s shown good ability and she could be very competitive there, but you would expect not just that she’d be better over further, but also that family does improve with time,” Smerdon said.
“I think she’ll be typical of that family. So further, later, better for her, but we have been encouraged with what we’ve seen from her to date.”
Fife, who like a number of Qatar Bloodstock’s Australian stock is named after a Hunt Club in England, had her most recent serious hit-out in company in an 800m Caulfield jumpout on Tuesday 6 June.
The daughter of Starcraft and Dane Belltar, who also produced Group 2 Zipping Classic winner and Australian Cup placegetter Tanby, also finished second in an 800m Cranbourne trial on Heavy ground on 25 May.
“She was sharp that day on a heavy track, so soft ground would be no issue,” Smerdon said. “But she comes into what looks a pretty fair line up.
“We’ll just assess her on each run and how she performs. We haven’t pigeon-holed her into anything specific other than it’s a starting point to wherever it takes us.”
Fife, who will be ridden by James Winks, has drawn barrier four in a field that is down to 15 runners after several early scratchings.
She is one of two interesting runners at Ballarat for Smerdon, who will also produce Niki Piki Milo in the $35,000 Hygain F&M BM70 Handicap (1000m, Race 7).
The three-year-old daughter of Librettist has won three of her six starts, including the Listed Ryder Stakes in July last year and a 1200m event on a Heavy 9 surface at her most recent outing.
“She’s probably more effective over a touch further but this was the most suitable I could find to kick off her campaign here,” Smerdon said of the filly who has been in Australia for around a month.
“She’s got good wet form, she gets affected ground tomorrow, but I would think even the wetter the better.”
Niki Piki Milo will carry 58kg after the 2kg claim for Thomas Sadler and has drawn barrier 12 in the field of 16 plus an emergency.